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Don Manuel the bicycle repair guy

Growing Up Bronx

Don Manuel the bicycle repair guy

When we were kids, there was an old man in the neighborhood. He lived on the first floor and in his apartment he had a shit ton of bikes and bike parts. I know this not cause I enjoyed going to old men’s homes as a child, but because whenever any of the kids on my block had a bike problem, we’d go to Don Manuel.

I have no idea how he came to be known as the bicycle repair guy, or how the word spread, but everyone just knew that this was where you went. I used Don Manuel’s services several times, as did many of my friends. We all had bikes and we rode them regularly during the summer. His prices were very affordable compared to those evil, greedy, lazy bike stores, and he was a nice warm man. I didn’t realize it then, but we were doing the equivalent of “shop local” as well as supporting our block’s economy.

Don Manuel was very creative in his ways to resolve issues. Sometimes he’d just shove an extra piece of metal between a loose part, lock it in, and the problem was gone. I’m not sure how safe or legal any of this was by today’s standards, but hey, he fixed our shit.

I woke up very early this morning, not realizing that it’s Saturday and I have no idea why Don Manuel came into my mind. He was very old, heavy set, and has probably been gone from this world for a long time. It’s been nearly 3 decades since I know anything about this man. But for some odd reason, he was in my thoughts this morning. Honestly, I can’t even recall if I got his name right, but I remember him! Wherever you are, Don Manuel, I remember you and I thank you for all your help during my childhood years. I hope that you are doing well.

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